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How Deshaun Watson's impressive NFL preseason debut went down

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Watson impresses in debut (1:07)

Louis Riddick breaks down QB Deshaun Watson's performance in his first action in the NFL. (1:07)

The NFL quarterback education of Deshaun Watson continued on Wednesday night with his preseason debut against the Carolina Panthers. The 12th pick of the NFL draft, Watson has impressed teammates and coaches with his grasp of the offense, passing ability and work ethic, but for now he is the backup to fourth-year veteran Tom Savage.

Texans coaches should find a lot to like when they go to the film to review Watson's debut after the rookie showed poise, mobility and arm strength in playing two-plus quarters during a 27-17 loss to the Panthers.

Here's a look at how his first action in an NFL uniform unfolded:

Deshaun Watson is working on his footwork on the field before the Texans' first preseason game.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer


Deshaun Watson is on the field warming up before the Texans' preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer


Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey and Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson exchanged a quick hug and returned to their work in warmups. The former Heisman Trophy candidates could be the most dynamic offensive rookies this year.

David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer


Deshaun Watson's family is at tonight's game in Charlotte to see his NFL debut.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

After Savage turns in an efficient 9-of-11, 69-yard performance, the Texans turn to Watson with 14:47 remaining in the second quarter of a 7-7 game.

It's Deshaun Watson time in Charlotte and he comes out to a huge cheer.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

Meanwhile, at Clemson ...

Deshaun Watson opened his drive with two incompletions, including a deep pass where he overthrew tight end RaShaun Allen.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

The Texans go three-and-out on Deshaun Watson's first drive at quarterback. He showed off his mobility by escaping pressure on third down, but his pass to Dres Anderson was ruled incomplete because he had stepped out of bounds.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

Deshaun Watson handed the ball off to RB D'Onta Foreman on his second drive and the Texans go three-and-out without letting Watson throw the ball.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

Deshaun Watson was 1-for-3 for six yards on his first two drives. He did not throw the ball on the second drive.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

After a completion to start the drive, Deshaun Watson overthrew a deep ball on second down, but the incompletion was nullified by a Panthers penalty.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

Deshaun Watson threw a nice pass over the middle to TE Evan Baylis, who was hit and fumbled at the Texans' 33. The Panthers will take over with good field position.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

Deshaun Watson's 18-yard pass to undrafted receiver Riley McCarron looks similar to what the two have done in practice. Watson has found McCarron often in the first two weeks of training camp.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

With two minutes to go in the first half, Deshaun Watson is 6-of-10 for 62 yards. He has done a good job of throwing the ball away and not forcing anything when he can't find an open receiver.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

On third-and-three, Deshaun Watson eluded the pressure and overthrew WR Dres Anderson in the end zone. The rookie has shown he can move early in this game.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

Can't tell if the crowd that has a lot of Clemson orange in it was happy or disappointed that Panthers corner Teddy Williams broke up that 50-yard toss by former Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson.

David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer

The Texans trail 17-10 at halftime, with as many penalties (10 for 72 yards) as points. Tom Savage was 9-for-11 for 69 yards and Deshaun Watson is 8-for-14 for 121 yards. Watson has had some passes off-target, but has shown off his mobility to keep plays alive. He has also done a good job of throwing the ball away when there is not a receiver open.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

Deshaun Watson started his first drive of the second half with a quick throw to D'Onta Foreman for four yards. Three plays later he found Akeem Hunt on the left for a eight-yard gain.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

Deshaun Watson's third down deep pass to Dres Anderson is complete for 19 yards. Anderson has been a frequent target of Watson, and has four catches for 80 yards.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

Deshaun Watson scrambles and scores his first NFL touchdown on a 15-yard run.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

Brandon Weeden is in at quarterback, ending Deshaun Watson's night. Watson got more than two quarters of reps on Wednesday night, and he went 15-for-25 for 179 yards. He also had three carries for 24 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer

That was a pretty solid night for Texans rookie QB Deshaun Watson. The quick passing game, boot, play pass and the ability to work through his reads. He looked comfortable running the offense. Plus, Watson showcased his mobility. That allowed the rookie to extend plays and pull the ball down to score on a TD run. Watson did miss on some throws, but the key here is the amount of reps he got tonight. There will be a lot of film to work with off this game and that creates opportunities to make corrections.

Matt Bowen, ESPN Staff Writer